The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

I think most teachers already realize that it's important to engage their students and that a student's learning engagement actually bumps up student achievement significantly. However, if they are at all like me, then they also need to be reminded of what works for kids. What is the best way to be reminded of this? By asking kids! Find out how kids best learn by asking the kids. What an amazing concept, eh?

I was fortunate enough to be part of a "Look to Learn" walk-through training this past week. Our district is training both teachers and administrators to go into classrooms for quick 4-minute snapshots of the "learning" (not the teaching) happening in classrooms. By asking the students themselves to explain what they are doing and why they think that they are doing it, you get a wealth of information. It was extremely enlightening -- and not at all evaluative. I only found myself evaluating one teacher -- myself.

I participated in these learning walk-throughs under the guidance of an amazing instructor, John Antonetti. My eyes were opened to the many ways in which I can improve student engagement in my own classroom as I looked for the following eight engaging qualities occurring in other classrooms:
(1) Personal Response
(2) Clear/Modeled Expectations
(3) Emotional/Intellectual Safety
(4) Learning with Others
(5) Sense of Audience
(6) Choice
(7) Novelty/Variety
(8) Authenticity

I went into some classrooms in which the students were very engaged and others in which students were compliant but not otherwise engaged. (To be engaged, a lesson needs to provide 3 of the 8 qualities listed above). In my learning walk throughs, I found that the students often knew the objective (or had clear/modeled expectations) but lacked other engaging qualities. This lead me to wonder if my students were actually engaged in my own classroom ... and how often? I'm talking about real engagement that creates an excitement to learn and do more -- even if the teacher leaves the room. I think we all know that, even as adults, if you really love to do something, you can do it for timeless hours without being told and want to continuing doing it well after the allotted time is up. Isn't that what we ultimately want for our students? To engage them so well that they can't help but to want to continue to learn more?

Of course there will be always be teacher-directed moments when a concept or activity is being introduced. That is also necessary to teaching. But I'm not talking about teaching here. I'm speaking about learning. Learning how to create learning. Thinking about thinking. You know, fun metacognitive stuff.

Learning walk-throughs are truly enlightening for the teacher(s) participating in the walk-through. I received the ideas, motivation and energy to create a better learning environment for my students. My thinking started to shift away from my instructional methods and move more toward the levels of engagement in which I am or am not providing for my students. Engagement is at the forefront of my mind when I go to plan my lessons now. It was always there, but I can't honestly say that it was always at the forefront. Now that it is, I plan to keep it there by continuing to do walk-throughs. I will voluntarily use my planning time to do walk-throughs simply because I believe it will help my planning. It is time well spent and well served.

My biggest take away from the day was the idea that we will learn our craft as teaching professionals by interacting with each other across disciplines and across grade levels with common expectations -- not by closing our classroom doors and practicing in isolation

Even as I see real value in participating in learning walk-throughs, I know that some teachers may not. Some may say that they are disruptive and may become evaluative in nature. Well, let's look at this from a perspective in which fear has been removed. Fear that the learning walks "may" become evaluative in the future. Fear that all teachers will be forced or mandated to do learning walk-throughs. Fear that we are bothering the teacher in the room in which we are performing the walk through. Fear that going into a room for a four-minute snapshot rattles an experienced, skilled teacher who already has the utmost confidence in his/her abilities.

In one entire day (from 7:45 - 2:00), I walked through classrooms in the High School, the Middle School and my own elementary school. Not once did we speak about the teacher or the teaching going on in the classroom. It was all student-oriented. It was not evaluative. It was not judgmental. It was a learning tool for my own teaching. What a great learning experience.

Views: 143


You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN


Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

Shawn Mitchell replied to Tata Nech's discussion Hey People
"i hope you are good in this time. and you can learn new things about tech & e-learning and too many things. And i want to read more blogs about it."
May 7
Shawn Mitchell replied to George Danke's discussion Integration with The Latest Technology in Education Field
"Condition is worse due to Covid we cannot go anywhere and even universities and research labs are closed. Hope the situation will be normal soon. Then we can think about something else"
Apr 29
Tata Nech posted a blog post

More Than a Sport: A Look at Scootering’s Evolution

Too many people do not have a clear idea about what is a Scooter; and much less than there is a sport based on it. Besides, it is a sport that has evolved a lot from its beginning, but if you do not know too much about the sport is hard to see it as more than a kid game.However, this sport is more than just kids and young people making scooter tricks in a square; scootering is a kind of culture and a lifestyle that has more than 20 years growing to become what it is today.For this reason, we…See More
Apr 24
Shawn Mitchell replied to Rob Schoonveld's discussion Twitter vs Edupln
"My preference is this website is best. Twitter is used for social purpose and EDUPLN is used for professional discussion which you cannot discuss on social platforms."
Apr 14
Shawn Mitchell replied to Shanshan Ma's discussion Personalized learning network and social media
"Hi, There are too many platforms of social media and the member of those platform discuss so many things and participate. So it depends only on you where do you want to discuss."
Apr 14
Shawn Mitchell replied to Nanacy Lin's discussion Future Of Education
"Now a days AI is best technology to learn because it is the future."
Apr 12
Joe Silva updated their profile
Apr 11
Profile IconStuart Jones, Sarah Kiefer, Corina Gamez and 5 more joined The Educator's PLN
Apr 11


© 2021   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service